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Culture magazine provides powerful brand extension for newspaper

31 May 2011 · By Hilde Torvanger

When Aftenposten noticed an unmet need among its audience for culture news in Norway, "K" was born. It has become a great success on its own, but also provides a huge boost to its already dominant mother brand.

Aftenposten is one of the strongest media brands in Norway. With 150 years of experience, they have a very strong position in the market. They have discovered the key to strengthen the brand even more — and at the same time capitalise on the brand.

Recently Aftenposten launched a new culture magazine called “Aftenposten K.” The results so far have been overwhelming. The first edition could triple the results compared to the budget. So what is the story behind this success?

Initially it was all about brand positioning. Some years ago Aftenposten realized that their readers were more interested in culture than the average population. At that time another newspaper possessed “the culture position” in the market.

Aftenposten then decided to increase and strengthen the focus on culture-related content, and they soon gained the No. 1 position. About five years ago, they dedicated a section to culture and strengthened their position even more. They gained very high credibility when it comes to conveying culture content, and are now perceived as the most important player in the market.

With such a strong position and readers that constantly wanted to read more about culture, Aftenposten realized that they had a unique business opportunity. The editor of the new magazine “K”, Kristin Valla, explains that they discovered that even while the interest in cultural content was so high, there was no Norwegian magazine that covered this area as a whole. Obviously creating a culture magazine would give Aftenposten the opportunity to both capitalise on the brand and its strong position, and at the same time strengthen Aftenposten’s culture positioning even more.

Kristin Valla and her team are overwhelmed by the reception of the magazine. The culture industry itself has embraced the initiative, and the readers are thrilled. This is a product they have been missing! The response from advertisers confirms this image, and because of this response, the number of pages in the first issue had to be increased twice.

This is not the first time Aftenposten has succeeded with this kind of brand extension project. A couple of years ago they launched Aftenposten Insight, (Aftenposten Innsikt), which is a magazine focusing on various issues like globalisation, environmental issues, and such — giving the readers an in-depth insight into the chosen issues. The magazine has been a great success commercially, and is also strengthening the core brand values of Aftenposten.

I believe the lesson learned is that brand extension is not only about capitalising on your brand, but also about using the new product to strengthen the mother brand. If the brand extension does not support or strengthen the mother brand in any way, you should probably not launch the product. The target should therefore always be both gaining commercial success and strengthening the mother brand and your market position.

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The “Bottom-Line Marketing” blog aims to bring together the principles behind marketing with the real-world experiences of newspapers transitioning to newsmedia companies. Our bloggers are some of the leading marketers at the world’s leading newsmedia companies today, most with experiences with packaged goods and brands such as McDonald's and Disney. They will aim to show how marketing – often under-utilised in the news industry – improves the bottom line (even a baby's bottom).

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